A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
Friday, Mar. 25, 2011
Israel’s Katsav Rape Case: A Plus for Women’s Rights?
By Karl Vick / Jerusalem
In a parliamentary government like Israel’s, pretty much all executive power resides in the Prime Minister. The office of President carries certain responsibilities, such as signing treaties and appointing the head of the central bank, but it’s largely a ceremonial post. Israel’s head of state is basically there to make the country look good.
So when Moshe Katsav, who held the office from 2000 to 2007, was convicted of rape last December, it did not enhance the dignity of the office. Nor did the outburst Tuesday morning in the Tel Aviv courtroom where he had just been sentenced to seven years in prison. “You are mistaken, ma’am, you are mistaken!” Katsav cried to one of the three judges he faced. “You have committed an injustice! The judgment is wrong! You allowed lies to emerge victorious! The women know that they lied! They know that they lied, and they are laughing at the judgment!”
The jurists took turns trying to calm the defendant — “Sir, sit down quietly, with dignity,” one of them said — then returned to reading out the sentence. In addition to jail time, it calls for Katsav to pay 100,000 shekels (about $28,500) to the woman he was found guilty of raping when she worked for him at the Tourism Ministry, which the Likud Party loyalist ran in the late 1990s. Katsav also must pay the equivalent of $7,100 to one of two former employees of the President’s residence whom he was convicted of sexually harassing. His attorneys announced he would appeal.
In the spasm of agonized national self-reflection that immediately ensued, one positive note was sounded again and again: in a country that still regards itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, “nobody is above the law, not even a former President,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it.
In fact, Israelis have grown accustomed to the long arm of the law reaching into the highest levels of government. Netanyahu was elected to an office vacated by Ehud Olmert, whose trial for corruption is under way in Jerusalem. The nation’s political landscape is stippled with former officials widely expected to resume their careers after waiting out penalties.
The real import of the Katsav conviction is the offense. Israel once enjoyed a reputation as an early exemplar of women’s rights. Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister in the 1960s. Young women wait at bus stops wearing olive green fatigues and carrying M-16s, military service being compulsory for both genders.
But in the corridors of power, it’s been a man’s world for generations. “This is considered a feminist country? That’s something new to me,” laughs Irit Gazit, who runs the legal aid bureau for the Women’s International Zionist Organization. An expert on sexual harassment, Gazit has been conducting workshops for the Israel Defense Forces. With its heavily male officer corps and legions of young female conscripts, it has often had to deal with accustions of harassment, yet it remains a crucial role model for a society that reveres its military.
In the gradual change of public attitudes, women’s rights advocates say a pivot point was the 2001 conviction of Yitzhak Mordechai, a retired major general convicted of indecency after being accused of unwelcome advances by a string of female subordinates. “While we were having coffee, he forced himself on me,” one testified. “He lay on top of me and tried to put his hand inside my blouse. I said to him, ‘Itzik, what are you doing?’ ” The accusations came in what would be a familiar pattern: news of the first complaint was followed by a wave of others. “It was a common assumption that if you were in a powerful position, you could do whatever you want,” says Gazit. “It was common in the army.”
The assumption has grown a bit less common with the publicity surrounding each new case. And there have been a lot of them. In one week last November, the nominee for national police commissioner was undone by a complaint from a woman who said he had sexually assaulted her at a conference. After another women alleged he had raped and drugged her, the candidate claimed the incident was not only consensual but a threesome. Meanwhile the director of the public security ministry resigned, acknowledging a relationship with a subordinate “that went beyond the bounds of work.”
Meanwhile, Katsav’s yearlong trial proceeded largely out of view, the three-judge panel barring most press coverage after sensationalized coverage of the investigation. The verdict included the judges’ tart observation that the Iranian-born Katsav had attempted to frame his accusers, followed by the court’s release of audio tapes supporting the allegation. “Now is a time of change,” says Gazit. “We need to educate men and women both. I hope cases like Katsav’s really serve this purpose.”
There is evidence they do. In January, the civil service commission reported that sexual harassment complaints were up 40% over a year earlier, a surge attributed largely to increasing awareness of the issue. Rape crisis counselors referred to it as “the Katsav effect.”
The choices we make have consequences. Sometimes we pay a high price for those “little things” we decide to let slide. And sometimes, others end up paying the price for us.
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Director of charity that hired man to work as guard questioned on suspicion of employing convicted felon to protect minors.
A 70-year-old man from Herzliya who was convicted and served a lengthy prison term for murdering his former wife and raping minors was arrested at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba on Thursday after allegedly molesting a 14-year-old suicidal girl whom he was employed to guard.
The suspect, Yosef Nunu, was hired by the Matav charity to work as a security guard. The charity’s director was questioned by police under suspicion of employing a convicted felon to protect minors in violation of the law.
Nunu served 24 years in prison for murder, molesting minors, raping young girls, and molesting family members. He was released after receiving a presidential pardon.
Nunu was tasked with securing a girl who had been hospitalized after attempting to take her own life.
The incident has caused national outrage, and police have stressed that the law calls for any agency which employs people who work around children to ensure that the employee produces a certificate from police stating that he or she has no previous convictions.
According to suspicions, Nunu began molesting and touching the girl while she lay in her hospital bed. He was seen by doctors hovering over the girl. The doctors became alarmed at his actions and immediately called police.
During police questioning, Nunu denied the suspicions, saying he merely “wanted to cheer her up” by giving her “a massage and a kiss to the forehead.”
The Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court extended Nunu’s custody by five days, and described the suspect as a danger to those around him.
Here we are smack in the middle of the one-week Passover holiday- Pesach- The Festival of Freedom. In a celebratory mood, I wanted to bring you a self-defense success story and I found one, not only from Israel, mind you, but right from the holy city of Jerusalem (see below).
As I translated the story from the Hebrew, I was struck by the awesome courage of the intended victim who fought off an armed attacker with her little children sleeping in the next room. I was inspired by the intervention of her neighbors, who identified the assailant and by the police who rushed to the scene.
However, with all due respect to the defense lawyer, what kind of a legal system declares someone “not responsible for their actions” due to being drunk??? How drunk could he have been? He had the foresight to ensure that his intended victim was alone, to put on a stocking mask— not something most men keep in their pockets “just in case”— and bring along a box cutter— what “box” was he planning to open in his neighbor’s apartment?
The Passover story and freedom. There in the presence of the powerful Pharoah, King of Egypt, stands the shepherd Moses (sounding remarkably like Charlton Heston) quoting God: “Shlach et ami…” Let my people go!”… And that’s where they choose to close the book and have another cup of wine– To Freedom!
But that is only half of the quotation. The quotation is not ” Shlach et ami…”; it is “Shlach et ami v’yavduni.” “Let my people go SO THEY MAY SERVE ME.” Freedom, yes, but for a purpose. Freedom and responsibility go hand-in- hand. In our society, we allow people to drink. We allow them to drink to excess- even though we all know that the disinhibiting effects of alcohol make us more likely to do stupid, risky and harmful things. It makes sense that we not hold people responsible for what they might do, but rather for what they do. “I was drunk” might excuse someone for slipping on the stairs and breaking a favorite vase but since when can: “I was drunk” be used to excuse someone for committing a violent crime? You were drunk? And who was responsible for THAT??? And, if someone was in control enough to time his attack, disguise himself and brings along a weapon, how drunk could he have been???
A deep bow to the 23 year-old Jerusalem mother of two for her heroism, to her neighbors for being what true neighbors should be and to the police for apprehending the suspect and bringing in the evidence to convict him. Let’s hope that our justice system doesn’t let this one get away.
A Jerusalem Court extended the detention of a resident of the city, who is suspected of entering his neighbor’s apartment at night with a stocking mask and a box cutter, attacking her and trying to rape her. She shouted, struggled – and fought him off. The suspect’s lawyer argues: “He was drunk”.
Dec. 8. 2009
The suspected attacker waited for the husband to leave, then went into his neighbor’s apartment with a stocking mask – and tried to rape her at knife point with her two children in the next room. This afternoon (Tuesday) the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the arrest of the city resident arrested last night on suspicion of trying to rape his neighbor. The investigation continues.
A 36-year-old man was arrested as a result of a night time attack on his neighbor, age 23. According to the woman filing the complaint, the suspect entered her apartment at about 10 o’clock at night wearing a stocking mask and carrying a box cutter, attacked her and tried to rape her. She struggled with him and was lightly injured by the knife, for which she required medical treatment. At the end of the struggle, she managed to fight him off, and he fled the apartment without carrying out his plans. During the course of the entire incident, the victim’s two young children – ages nine months and a year and eight months – were in the next room.
Neighbors who heard the screams of the young woman called the police. The police arrived at the scene and began to search for the attacker. The woman could not identify the attacker due to his stocking mask , but neighbors that saw him remove the mask reported him to the police, and he was arrested. During a search conducted in his apartment the knife was also found.
According to Sergeant Major Maya Yosipov, investigator of violent sexual offenses, the suspect confessed this morning and admitted that he planned the attack after the husband left fifteen minutes before, when he realized that his wife was alone at home. In response, the suspect’s lawyer, Ariel Atari, said: “According to the evidence, my client was drunk that night. Therefore, it is doubtful that he can be held responsible for his actions, even if they occurred.” Said Sergeant Major Yosipov “The drunkenness argument contradicts the confession, according to which he planned the event, went up to the apartment, found the door open, and entered the apartment wearing a stocking mask and equipped with a knife.”
Last night, I had the honor and pleasure of instructing in Tel Aviv as part of one of our IMPACT Self-Defense teams. Nothing strange about that. What IS unusual is that IMPACT-Israel is currently running THREE IMPACT courses simultaneously: a women’s course on Sunday mornings in Jerusalem, a Teen course for at-risk teens in Rishon L’Zion and, now, this new evening women’s course in Tel Aviv.
The good news is, word is getting out about IMPACT. IMPACT is such a powerful experience for participants and staff alike, and word-of-mouth is the mainstay of our success. Happily, a growing number of our students seem to be coming to us through referrals from therapists who see IMPACT as part of the sexual assault survivor’s process of recovery and reintegration. It is very gratifying to speak with mental health professionals who see us as part of the “treatment team”.
The bad news, of course, is in the headlines. Just take a look at the article below: “Sharp rise in sexual assault; 15% of the victims are younger than 13”. The women who are coming to us are the brave ones, the ones who read the articles, see the news and say to themselves: “I’d better do something about this.” Just by picking up the phone, these women are demonstrating the essence of personal empowerment: Stepping up to the plate.
Perhaps that is the reality of our situation. As martial arts instructors and self-instructors of every stripe, perhaps we can only to reach those who are already strong enough to reach out and grasp the tools we offer. Or perhaps there are ways for us to reach out that could enable us to reach those not quite ready to make the call. To prevent a potential trip to a hospital Sexual Assault Unit. To change the identity of the patient in the ambulance from that of the potential victim to that of the attempted assailant.
In essence, like our students, we too must begin from a place of believing that we can succeed only if we are willing to embody the change we seek. So please feel free to share your “why-don’t-you-try?”s or “this-has-worked-for us”s. We are listening and, I hope, courageous enough to step up to the plate.
The Rape Crisis Center at Wolfson Hospital in Holon publicized that, within the last decade, the number of women referring themselves for treatment has risen 600%. “Every year Israel is becoming more dangerous for women”, said the Director of the Women’s Health & Maternity Unit at the hospital and, according to its Director of Social Work Services , “we long ago lost our morality as a society”.
Translation by Jill Shames from the Hebrew article on NRG
Tomer Valmar | 9/2/2010 10:14
The Center for Victims of Sexual Assault at Wolfson Hospital in Holon has publicized that, in 2009, 360 women came to the Center for treatment, an increase of 600% over the year 2000. Data published by the Center shows that almost a third of the victims are under 18, and that, in most cases, the sexual assault is accompanied by physical violence.
The Center for Victims of Sexual Assault at Wolfson Hospital in Holon was founded in 2000. For eight years, it was the only place in Israel designed for this purpose. In its first year of operation, sixty women came for treatment, which is now handled by six sexual assault survivors.
Data from the Center given to Maariv (an Israeli newspaper), indicated an increase in the number of cases of sexual assault using physical force that required medical intervention and, sometimes, prolonged hospitalization. According to the Director of the Women’s Health & Maternity Unit at the hospital, Prof. Abraham Golan, since the Wolfson Center was the only place offering specialized therapy for victims of sexual assault until two years ago, the data is indicative of a national trend.
“We are talking about a very disturbing picture signifying that, every year, Israeli society is becoming more violent and more dangerous for women,” said Prof Golan. According to the Center’s data, 40% of the attacks, 37% of which were assaults of girls 18-14, occurred on weekends. It also showed that older women are usually attacked at night while girls are attacked mainly in the afternoon hours.
Even the places where the attacks occur vary by age: While girls aged 14-17 are most often attacked in public places like gardens or playgrounds, women aged 18-25 are most likely to be attacked at the home of the attacker. Attacks against older women usually occur in the woman’s own home.
In addition, according to Prof. Golan, there has been a sharp increase in recent years of women being attacked while they are under the influence of alcohol. Women aged 18-25 are the most likely group to be under the influence of alcohol when they are victimized. Doctors at the Center said that, many times, these women arrive at the hospital unconscious, unclothed and with no memory of what happened to them or who attacked them.
Dr. Giulia Barda, the gynecologist in charge of the therapeutic center explains: “In the wake of a sexual assault, it is advisable to get to the hospital within 24 hours, in order to enable us to find evidence of injury and the presence of alcohol and drugs during examination. Similarly, rapid treatment is very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. ‘
The hospital’s Social Work Service Director Sima Oren added: “The feeling is that, as a society, we long ago lost our morality, and that, in most cases, these women are subjected to psychological damage that is very difficult to cure.”
The problem with being the purveyors of a product like “self-defense” is that most people think they know what you are offering, but very few really do. Say “self-defense”, even in Hebrew, and visions of Superman, TV wrestling, ninjas and stun guns dance in their heads. Tell them that your goal in teaching self-defense is societal change…blank stare.
So, when we go out to explain our programs, we don’t talk about “self-defense” and we don’t talk about “changing the world” . When we go out to special schools and afternoon programs for at-risk teens we talk about “violence prevention and life-skills”. When we present ourselves to social workers running programs for seniors, we talk about “self-efficacy and personal security”. When we talk to representatives in the Arab community we talk about ” helping defend the honor of the family”. WE know that the term “self-defense” or, as we sometimes refer to it “holistic self-defense” includes all of these and much, much more. But it doesn’t sell.
Today’s story from the Hebrew press is another self-defense success story… but not the kind your average person would recognize as such. It is the story of a sexual predator immersed in one of the safest places he could possibly be: a religious institution serving disabled children.
According to the report Crimes Against People With Disabilities, 2007 (U.S. Department of Justice, October 2009), based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability.
So, plenty of victims to choose from and here we are, talking about 10-13 year-old autistic boys from religious families. How much safer could a sexual predator be?
What were the odds that one of these boys would have the courage and the ability to tell his parents what was happening to him? What were the odds that these parents would take their son’s horrible allegations seriously enough to approach the school administration and that, when they saw the administration was acting in a way that might protect their son, but would leave the perpetrator free to prey upon others, that they would go to the police? What was the chance that the police would pursue a case that boils down to the word of a few autistic boys against a teacher with no criminal record? Unbelievable!!!
The boy, his parents, the police… heroes every one of them! Why? Because…. What were the odds????
But what if we could change the odds? What if kids could stand up for themselves against adults that abuse them? What if they could tell and be believed? What if parents could report and not be shunned? What if police could pursue these criminals knowing that no one would be afraid to tell the truth?
What if sexual predators had nowhere to hide?
Holistic self-defense. It could change the world.
Suspected: A Rabbi At A Yeshiva for Autistic Boys is Suspected of Sodomy
The heads of the yeshiva, located in Ramot, were interrogated after they chose not to involve the police even though they were aware of the rabbi’s actions. The suspected was arrested after parents of a student in the yeshiva registered a complaint with the police.
Yossi Eli 20-11-2009
ww.nrg.co.il (translated from the Hebrew)
Turmoil erupted at a yeshiva for autistic children in Ramot. Last weekend, police arrested a rabbi and teacher at the yeshiva (30) on suspicion of engaging in a series of indecent acts and sodomy against autistic children aged 10-13 learning at the institution over a period of years. The arrest of the rabbi became possible when one of the students complained about the acts to his parents.
The issue became known to the rabbis managing the yeshiva last year when one of the children complained to his parents that the rabbi would touch him and, thus, reach sexual satisfaction. The parent turned to the rabbis, who decided not to go to the police but, rather, to deal with the issue within the walls of the yeshiva.
The rabbis decided to remove the teacher from the yeshiva and appoint a new one. With that, the parents of the youth who garnered the strength to reveal the incident decided not to let the matter rest. They issued a complaint at the Shafat Police Station, that, then, opened an investigation. In the course of the investigation, the rabbis of the yeshiva were interrogated with the warning that they were suspected of covering-up the incident. They were released shortly thereafter.
“We are talking about reliable young men”
The teacher was arrested and brought for interrogation to the Shafat Police Station. In the course of the investigation, he denied the acts attributed to him and insisted that he had not committed sodomy but, rather, was accustomed to hugging and kissing the children in a fatherly manner. As the investigation continued, in order to check the reliability of the complaints, a psychologist was invited to the institution to speak with the youngsters.
The psychologist testified that these were trustworthy young men and that the police could rely on their testimony.
The police suspect that the teacher was involved in several additional incidents involving other autistic boys that learn at the yeshiva. They intend to interview other boys learning at that same yeshiva.
The teacher was brought to the Municipal Court in the city to extend his detention before Judge Morris Ben Atar who decided to extend his detention for four more days.
The police reported that “the suspect is a resident of one of the settlements close to Modiin Ilit, a normal man with no criminal past, married and the father of five. It is the police’s intention to recommend a indictment against the man.”
The teacher’s attorney, Arnon Eitan, reported in response that “from the beginning we determined that these were old allegations that were dealt with by the “educational institution more than a year ago. And since, the matter ended. Even the present investigation came to the same conclusion.”
I wish I could tell you that this incident, a family friend sexually assualting an 11 year old girl with neurological problems, is unusual. It’s not. Not in the Western world. Not in the Eastern world. Not anywhere.
A study conducted in 2000 found that 17% of women with disabilities reported that they had experienced rape or sexual and / or physical assault as opposed to 9% of women without disabilities. According to a 1998 report, 16% of children at-risk (a total of about 330,000) suffered from abuse or neglect. The greatest number of these were children from poor or out-of-work families and children with disabilities, especially cognitive or behavioral disabilities.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are special parents like the one in this story who hear the most horrendous stories from their children and find within themselves the courage to believe and support them.
Look at the web of lies this criminal spun around this child. How he won the trust of her family and tried to use her cognitive difficulties against her. And look how this family worked together to stop the abuse and restore a sense of self-respect and trust to this girl.
V. and family, we salute you. May you continue to see the fruits of your courage in the face of deception.
The mother of the 11 year-old girl who reported that she had been raped by a family friend said that it was unbelievable that this ‘nice grandfatherly figure’ did such terrible things to her. “I trusted him”
Zohar Sosanko Aug. 8, 2009
V., the mother of the 11 year-old girl allegedly raped by Charl Sitbon, a 69 year-old resident of Netanya and family friend, reported in a conversation with Maariv/NRG how her daughter described to her the terrible things done to her by the “nice grandfatherly figure” they knew.
According to the mother, her daughter told her about the terrible things Sitbon had done to her only after a cousin of the mother convinced the girl to do so.
“I was in shock,” The mother described her reaction after hearing what her daughter had to say. “She told me things and described things that a little girl could not possibly know without having experienced them.”
The mother said” “Since then, I haven’t slept. I imagine what happened and it’s hard for me to breathe. Each time, he told her: ‘Don’t forget that it is our secret. If your mother finds out, I will get in trouble and so will you.’ I explained to her that it was not her fault.” The suspect was transporting the girl to and from medical treatments.
Five years ago, a month after V. moved to Israel from France, her daughter was in a serious accident; she was hit by a car while crossing the street. As a result, the girl was hospitalized unconscious for three weeks. Since then, she has required regular treatments for neurological problems.
The mother said that two years ago, she met Sitbon at an event arranged by the municipality in honor of immigrants from France.
“He helped me. He drove us to my daughter’s treatments,” she said. “Sometimes, he took my daughter shopping so she could get out of the house a little and did not always have to be with me. Then he did these things to her.”
She added that he was practically the only person she could rely upon in Israel. He was 69 and my daughters looked upon him as a ‘grandfather’. I wasn’t worried because he was married with children and grandchildren. I never thought about things like this.”
Immediately after her daughter told her what happened V. called the suspect and asked him to come over. “I told him that I needed to speak with him,” she described. “I asked him what he did to my daughter. He replied that something was wrong with her, that she was a liar, and then he left. We went immediately to the police .
The mother added that, according to the girl, the suspect had committed a series of indecent assaults over the course of the last year and always warned her not to tell. Nonetheless, the mother points out that she sees in retrospect that it was becoming increasingly difficult for her daughter to be around Sitbon.
“When he would come, she would say: ‘If that is Charl, I do not want to see him. He annoys me.’ Still, I never believed that it was something like this.
She noted that one time her daughter told her that she had slapped the suspect. When she asked the child why she had hit him, she responded: “Just because.” The mother even asked Sitbon, who responded, “She is abnormal.”
After Sitbon’s arrest ,the mother said that she started to see positive changes in the child’s behavior. “We see that since she told her entire story, she feels better. She has taken a great weight off of her shoulders.
The mother explained that her daughter is afraid she made a mistake. “I told her she is not responsible for what happened, she added. “He did ‘not-nice’ things to you and you had to tell so he can be punished for what he did.” She said that she never wants to see him again.
In conclusion, the mother said: “I want to tell mothers to be careful with their children and with people like this, in particular single mothers.”
Amen to that.